New York — OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, announced this week that Seattle Opera Chairman of the Board John Nesholm, along with three other outstanding trustees across the United States, have received the 2015 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award.
Now in its eighth year, this award honors individuals for exemplary leadership, generosity and audience-building efforts on behalf of his or her respective opera companies.
“The support and leadership of John Nesholm stands alone in our company’s history,” said Aidan Lang, General Director of Seattle Opera. “No other donor has been as generous with their time, expertise, and gifts to the organization.”
In addition to Nesholm, the recipients of the 2015 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award are James H. McCoy, Hawaii Opera Theatre (Honolulu, HI); Sue Bienkowski, Long Beach Opera (Long Beach, CA); and Frank “Woody” Kuehn, Opera Southwest (Albuquerque, NM).
OPERA America will pay tribute to the 2015 honorees and celebrate their remarkable achievements at a dinner and reception on February 27, in New York City.
“Successful opera companies depend on effective boards,” said Marc A. Scorca, President/CEO of OPERA America. The National Opera Trustee Recognition Award affords the entire opera community an opportunity to salute and learn from those who have been so generous in their passion for the art form, vision and support of their opera companies.”
Nesholm has reshaped the cultural landscape of Seattle.
His firm LMN Architects served as the lead architect for Benaroya Hall, Seattle’s premier symphonic hall, in 1998; transformed Seattle Opera’s performance space, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, into one of the leading opera houses in the country in 2003; and was the architecture firm of record for the Seattle Public Library designed by the highly acclaimed Rem Koolhaas.
At Seattle Opera, Nesholm served as board president from 1992 to 2005 and has served as Board Chairman since 2005.
He has carefully guided Seattle Opera with an unwavering focus on financial stability in service of artistic excellence.
Nesholm chaired the recent search committee that appointed General Director Aidan Lang, the third leader in the company’s 51-year history.
Nesholm has also diligently served on Seattle Opera’s facilities committee, finance committee, and governance committee, and has presided over the company’s annual meetings for more than a decade.
Currently, Nesholm is lending his time, expertise, and leadership to a highly collaborative public/private partnership that will relocate the organization’s administration, rehearsal spaces, and creative shops to facilities adjacent to its performing space, adding vitality to Seattle’s theater district.
Nesholm’s support of Seattle Opera has extended well beyond its physical space.
His leadership and support of its artistic programs have allowed the company to achieve its prominent position among American opera companies while weathering the risks inherent in making great art.
Since 1990, the Nesholm Family Foundation has sponsored 26 productions, including lead sponsorship of the 2013 Ring cycle, and the Nesholms have made significant personal gifts, as well.
Nesholm and his wife, Laurel, have also served as dynamic fundraisers for the company, leading the 50th anniversary celebration and gala honoring former General Director Speight Jenkins, which earned $1 million in net proceeds.
The Nesholms also served as co-chairs of The Campaign for Seattle Opera, which helped the company withstand the recent economic recession by raising more than $36 million for operations, endowment, and capital.
Each year, OPERA America Professional Company Members are invited to nominate one of their trustees for this award.
One honoree is chosen from each of OPERA America’s four budget levels, recognizing that devoted trustees are an integral part of opera companies large and small.
Through a competitive adjudication process, honorees are selected by the National Opera Trustee Recognition Program committee, led by OPERA America Board Member Carol F. Henry (chairman of the board of directors’ executive committee, Los Angeles Opera).
Other committee members include: Elizabeth Eveillard (past chair of the board of trustees, The Glimmerglass Festival), Garry Fredericksen (past president of the board of directors, Indianapolis Opera), Ruth Orth (past chair of the board of trustees, Pensacola Opera) and Fillmore Wood (former vice chairman of the board of directors, Opera Pacific).
“OPERA America’s commitment to recognizing the multifaceted contributions of opera company trustees is inspiring,” Henry said. “As an opera company trustee, I understand the level of commitment the nominees make to the art form and to the opera companies they love. Therefore, I am deeply honored to commend their achievements on a national scale.”
Seattle Opera’s 2014/15 Season in honor of Speight Jenkins
About Seattle Opera
Seattle Opera is a leading opera company, recognized both in the United States and around the world.
The company is committed to advancing the cultural life in the Pacific Northwest with performances of the highest caliber, and through innovative education and community programs that take opera far beyond the McCaw Hall stage.
Each year, more than 95,000 people attend Seattle Opera performances and the company’s programs serve more than 65,000 people of all ages.
Seattle Opera is especially known for its acclaimed works in the Richard Wagner canon, and has created an “international attraction” in its presentation of Wagner’s epic Ring, according to The New York Times.
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